|Jiri-san Ssanggye-sa Yukjo-am
Repository of the Skull of "Yukjo" Hui-neng
(Sixth Patriarch of Seon [Zen] Buddhism)
Portrait in the temple's Seongbo Museum
of Hui-neng, the famous Sixth Patriarch
of Chinese Seon [Ch'an, Zen] Buddhism,
brought back from China by the two
founders, supposedly along with his skull.
It was recorded that monks Sambeop and Daebi, disciples of the great Hwaeom Master
Uisang-daesa and the founders of Okcheon-sa [Jade-Heaven Temple] in 722 (which became
Ssanggye-sa), had travelled China for study at Nanhua-si Temple, and returned with the skull
of and a portrait of "Yukcho-seonsa" [Meditation-master Dajian Hui-neng (Hyeneung), the Sixth Patriarch
of Seon [Chan, Zen] Buddhism, 慧能 Huìnéng, lived 638–713), author of the "Platform Sutra of the Sixth
Patriarch" 六祖壇經 and founder of the Southern Chan Sect 頓教 which taught sudden & total enlightenment],
which they respectively buried under the Main Hall and enshrined in a separate Hall.
This story is somewhat doubtful and entirely unproven, as there is no record of how the could
have obtained the revered master's skull (given to them as a pilgrimage-gift? bought? stolen?), no record
of their visit on the Chinese side. The body of Huineng is said to be preserved in mummified
meditation-posture form in Nanhua Temple of present-day northern Guangdong Province, and
it appears intact, no skull missing (or replaced) as far as is known. The famous Jesuit missionary-
priest Matteo Ricci wrote that he saw this mummy when he visited Nanhua-si in 1589.
The remnants of the skull, whosever it actually is, were dug up in the 2002 renovation of
the Main Hall and enshrined in a stone pagoda, placed in a Shrine in its own Hermitage,
named Yukjo-am. It is reached at the top of a long steep stairway, directly from the
southwestern edge-corner of the Ssanggye-sa compound. Due to these factors, the
entire monastery has maintained a high reputation for meditation and pilgrimage practices.
|What is claimed to be Huineng's
mummy, at Nanhua-si